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Related Categories: Animal Liberation | Anti-War
Minnesota county wants feedlot sites kept secret
by Willie Green
Friday Apr 25th, 2003 8:39 PM
ST. PETER, Minn. -- Concerned about animal rights activists and bioterrorism, Nicollet County Board members have asked the state to conceal information about the location of animal feedlots across the state.
"We think we deserve obscurity because we're part of the economic engine that's very important to the state and is vulnerable if our location is known to the wrong people," Board Chairwoman Judy Hanson said.


But Hanson's main fear isn't that al-Qaida operatives might sneak into local hog farms and introduce diseases into the nation's food supply.


Her proposal was prompted, instead, by an animal-rights group -- Compassionate Action for Animals -- that was accused of trespassing and taking photographs of dead hogs on a county farm and has acknowledged conducting "animal rescues" in the past.


A member of the group, Matthew Mackall, and two other people, dressed in black from head to toe and went to the Ronald Grommersch farm April 4. He said they took pictures of dead hogs visible from the road that were awaiting a rendering truck to take them away. He denied any intent to terrorize anybody or directly harm to the farm or hogs.


Grommersch and his son, Richard, wanted a deputy to pursue trespassing charges at first but were satisfied when the activists agreed to erase the images of the dead hogs from their digital camera. The deputy also told the activists not to return.


At Tuesday's meeting, the county board also discussed but didn't go through with directing the county's environmental services director, Tina Rosenstein, to violate the state's Data Practices Act by refusing to release information on local feedlots if people requesting the information don't have a legitimate need for it.


That response seemed excessive to Commissioner Jack Kolars.


"I'm starting to hear black helicopters around here," Kolars said. "How many requests have we had here in Nicollet County (from people) dressed in black asking where the hog farms are?"


Rosenstein said there have been none because the state's animal-rights groups are generally Twin Cities-based and can access feedlot information through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.


Kolars, who abstained on the otherwise unanimous vote to pass the resolution, said he doesn't support animal-rights activists trespassing on private property. But he wondered whether the county was labeling the activists as terrorists simply because they don't support animal agriculture.


Dave Preisler, president of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, spoke on behalf of Hanson's effort.


"Is every activist group out there a terrorist group? No," Preisler said. "Are there some? Yes."

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